As another school year begins, one of UCSB’s best-kept secrets will be preparing to showcase its talents once more.

The UCSB Sport Clubs program, a division of UCSB Recreational Sports, has high hopes for the upcoming season – and why not? With 22 teams, many of them nationally ranked, it’s a safe bet to say it could be another outstanding year for our sport clubs.

For the alpine race team, it will be tough to improve upon such a successful season. Having swept last year’s regional championships and dominating at the national championships with four top three finishes, the club hopes for more of the same.

Look for the bowling team to be practicing and competing at the always-popular Zodo’s Bowling and Beyond in Goleta.

The cycling team begins its season at the end of September and is looking for athletes interested in racing or training hard on 50-mile rides. An informational meeting is scheduled for Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Engineering II Pavilion.

Competing in saber, epee and foil, UCSB’s fencers will be practicing every Monday, Wednesday and Friday night in Rob Gym.

With their roster already full, the women’s field hockey team is also ready to go. Having practiced throughout summer, they look forward to a new season and their first home game on Oct. 19.

Coming off one of the most successful seasons ever in their history, new coach Mike Allan can’t help but be excited for the men’s lacrosse team. After all, a preseason #2 national ranking and an abundance of returning all-stars and All-Americans can’t hurt. Prospective athletes should go to a Sept. 30 meeting at 5 p.m. in the RecCen Classroom. The women’s lacrosse team’s first practice is on Oct. 7, and the Gauchos are looking forward to introducing the returning members and welcoming potential rookies at their meeting on Oct. 1 at 5 p.m. in the RecCen Classroom.

With the addition of an on-campus roller hockey rink as part of an expanded RecCen slated for Winter 2005, the roller hockey club is looking forward to a new future and brighter enthusiasm for hockey in Santa Barbara. Tryouts are scheduled for Sept. 20 and 21 from 6-8 p.m. at the Earl Warren Showgrounds.

This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the UCSB Rowing program. Guided by Coaches Mike Homes and Rick Brown, the Gauchos look to continue a tradition of excellence that has consistently defined Santa Barbara rowing. Last year at the Dad Vail Championships, the largest collegiate race in the world, UCSB posted several semifinal finishes beside an impressive second place in the women’s lightweight four division. Freshman practice takes place on campus for two weeks before moving on to Cachuma Lake. If interested, attend a meeting on Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in I.V. Theater.

An 11-2 record, two All-Americans, and a Southern California Regional championship certainly make an impressive total. The men’s rugby team hopes to build on all of that with a jolt of new blood. As always, all experience levels and body types are welcome to this blend of football, soccer and wrestling. Look for a meeting on Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. in the RecCen Classroom.

“You don’t have to be big to play. [All-American] Tim Lew was one of the smallest on the team,” senior Andrew King said.

Not to be outdone by their male counterparts, women’s rugby enjoyed a second place league finish last year and anticipates bigger and better things thanks to a core of returning upper classmen. Practices are held every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on Storke Field.

UCSB’s sailing team has quite a view: practicing out of scenic Santa Barbara Harbor makes every season seem successful. But there’s substance to this view, too. The Gauchos placed fourth overall in the Pacific Coast Championships. With Santa Barbara nationally ranked and gaining five new vessels, things are looking rosy for the program and Head Coach Ty Reed. There are meetings every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in South Hall 1421.

The 2003-04 season marks the official entrance of men’s and women’s club soccer into the UCSB Sport Clubs family. In 2001 and 2002, the women were national runners-up and quarterfinalists, respectively. Led by Head Coach Todd Heil, the Gauchos will open the season against Long Beach State on Sept. 28 at 3 p.m. on Storke Field. The men will open up against the University of Southern California.

With 11 national championships and counting, the surfing team should be surprising nobody with their continued dominance over their competition. Any team would be happy with the fifth place national finish of last year, but UCSB’s surfers hope to return to the form they showed in the 2001-02 season, the last time they won the national championship. Tryouts are Oct. 4 at 9 a.m. at Sands Beach, with a backup date in case of no waves set for Oct. 10.

It’s odd that the grueling sport of triathlon could attract five people, let alone the 50+ members of Santa Barbara’s program. Yet this swiftly growing club continues to produce tremendous triathletes. The Gauchos welcome runners, swimmers and bikers of all levels who wish to learn about the sport.

Having combined for 10 national championships between them, UCSB’s men’s and women’s ultimate Frisbee teams – respectively known as the Black Tide and the Burning Skirts – expect more trophies this season. The first practice is scheduled for Sept. 30 for both teams at 6:30 p.m. at Rob Field. Prospective players should bring cleats, water and both a dark and light shirt. Oh, and don’t forget your sidearm throw.

Finally, UCSB’s water ski team is giddy over the prospects of a new season of competition.

“[We have] the reputation of being the most fun and social of all collegiate teams. We take pride in always being the last team to leave a party and the ones who get up and start them,” senior captain Matt Bettencourt said.

The Gauchos are pretty good on the water, too, just barely missing a trip to nationals last spring. Meetings are every Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Girvetz 2128.